Last week’s BMW International Open runner-up Rafa Echenique goes into the weekend with a two stroke lead at the Open de France ALSTOM, and warned the rest of the field: “If my putting is as good as it has been for the first two rounds then I have a great chance to win this tournament.”
The Argentinean – who produced an albatross at the final hole in Munich – reached ten under par after a second round 66.
Echenique commented: "I've had a good three weeks and you have to enjoy the moment. I received lots of emails and calls after what happened on Sunday, but I always try to keep on the same level.
His biggest problem was bloodshot eyes caused by an allergy, but he still produced some outstanding golf to build on his opening 65.
“Yesterday was a great round,” he continued. “No bogeys – only the fourth time that I have ever done that. Today I bogeyed the first but then birdied the second and eagled the third and that really helped to settle me down.
“I have played a lot of irons off the tees, even on some of the par fives and if my putting is as good as it has been for the first two rounds then I have a great chance to win this tournament.”
Germany’s Martin Kaymer, having opened with a course record-equalling 62, could only produce a one over 72 for a share of second with Charl Schwartzel and Steve Webster.
"I am happy with the position I am in going into the weekend," said 24 year old Kaymer. "I am only two off the lead with 36 holes to play so there is a long way to go but I have a great chance, especially if I can continue to putt the way that I have been over the first two rounds.”
Webster produced a best of the day 65 a week after spending five hours in hospital after a loft door hit him in the eye while he was helping his father.
"I was worried quite a lot at first because it cut inside my eye," commented Webster, who missed last week's event in Germany following the incident.
"I had to have X-rays first and then stitches. The doctor told me 'Lay on the bed and don't move - I'm just going to put two needles in your eye.'
"I had a black eye for a few days, but I was lucky really. I told him to make me a better putter while he was at it and he seems to have done a good job!"
Former European Tour player Gary Evans was also given some of the credit, however, after making a couple of suggestions.
"He was a great putter and if I putt well I can shoot low. It's a nice feeling when you hit it to 15 feet and feel you have a chance of making it."
Schwartzel, who signed for a 66, added: “It was good. I really enjoyed it out there and played really well. I was pretty much flawless until the last two holes but overall I am very happy.”
Peter Hanson and Richard Green share fifth on seven under, one ahead of English pairing Lee Westwood and Paul Waring.